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Fluidigm, Mount Sinai Partner to Detect Epigenetic Markers of WMD Exposure

NEW YORK – Fluidigm said today that it is collaborating with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai as part of a project to develop epigenetic signatures that could identify exposure to weapons of mass destruction.

The overall project, announced by Mount Sinai in June, is being funded by a $27.8 million contract from the US Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as part of its Epigenetic Characterization and Observation (ECHO) program, which aims to develop new approaches to analyze epigenetic markers and new instrumentation that can be used in the field by operators with minimal training.

Fluidigm said that it will receive up to $3.9 million over four years to develop a microfluidic device for single-cell measurement of epigenetic changes.

"Our ultimate goal is to develop an assay that we can use to rapidly detect exposure of military troops to threatening agents in the future so that appropriate actions can be taken," Stuart Sealfon, director of the Center for Advanced Research on Diagnostic Assays at Icahn School of Medicine, and principal investigator of the study, said in a statement.

"Since individual cells will respond to agents in different ways, we will be using single-cell analysis to identify the novel epigenetic signatures," Sealfon added. "Fluidigm's microfluidic assay expertise, shown in their C1, Biomark, and Polaris instruments, makes them the perfect partner for this research program."

Chris Linthwaite, president and CEO of Fluidigm, noted in a statement that the partnership will enable Fluidigm to accelerate the development of its microfluidics technologies for "new applications and systems that extend beyond epigenetics" and help the company expand into new markets that it does not currently address.

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